Poor tackling? Or great running?

Peter Steinberg, CBS Sports rugby commentator, insisted during the Seattle Seawolves game against the New Orleans Gold May 12 that poor tackling on the part of the southern team led to their 31-29 defeat.

And 100 percent perfect tackling would mean no tries scored and certain victory — or nothing worse than a 0-0 tie. But poor tackling can have two causes. The defenders might be slow, weak or easily got around, as Steinberg seemed to imply about NOLA. But some players are just hard to tackle. Some players like William Rasileka, Shalom Suniula, Will Holder, Matt Turner, Peter Tiberio, Peter Smith. Those Seawolves backs cut up the NOLA defense to combine for four tries. Smith was the perfect kicker, connecting on all four conversions and a penalty. (Steinberg also rightfully pointed out that NOLA could have tied the game with one more successfully kicked conversion or won if one of their missed penalty kicks had gone through.)

None of those Seattle tries would have been scored if NOLA tacklers had been more proficient, but the quick steps, deceptive passes and well executed plays of the Seattle backs made the NOLA task daunting.

And Seattle’s game is an exciting one to watch. Major League Rugby liked this score enough to name it the try of the week:

But for my money, the Seattle movement that starts at 2:00 in the video below is a lot more fun to watch:

On Sunday, the Seawolves face the Utah Warriors at sold-out Starfire Stadium back home in Tukwila. (5:30 PDT)

The Seawolves had to hang on to the very end to get the win against NOLA, and from the MLR game report on Utah’s win last week over Austin, it sounds like Seattle better be prepared to hang around to the end again if they want a victory. Austin’s Hanco Germishuys summed it up this way: “It just came down to the end. At the end Utah had more pace than us, more passion to get that win. In the second half we had that 20 minutes but then we started falling off.”

For Seattle on Sunday, there can be no falling off.

2 thoughts on “Poor tackling? Or great running?

  1. Nice article Mr. Saul. I agree with Pete Steinberg. Thus far, across the league with minor exception; the defensive systems, and more importantly, individual commitment to the tackle has not been a strength. Such defensive lapses can create a more exciting game (i.e., more frequent breaks, wide open running, flow, etc.. This has created compelling matches at all levels, but does not bode well for the Eagles at the higher level until the level of defensive commitment improves. And, it will! It’s early days in this league… massive success compare to initial expectations. Go SeaWolves!

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    1. A look at the scores confirms what you say. Of the 12 MLR games so far, there have been eight where more than 60 total points were scored. The highest was 88 points when Houston ran over Austin (the Elite still managed 38 points on their side of the ledger). The lowest scoring game was the 19-15 Glendale win over the Seawolves and that was played in rainy conditions that probably contributed to the many handling errors in the game that in turn kept the score down. Love watching high-scoring games, but it’s true that good defense ought to come first for a team that expects to go far. Not all players are fast, tricky or confident with the ball, but anyone on the field can and should tackle. When my team misses a tackle, that brings me to my feet for a stand-up groan.

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